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60 million americans. we have it all covered tonight, starting with weather channel meteorologist mike seidel. he's in kansas city, where this storm, by the way, is hitting two days after that huge explosion and fire in the downtown area. but it's just one of the cities in the path. mike, good evening. >> and good evening, brian. so far this storm has been responsible for five deaths here in kansas city. a wall of white rolled through this morning, dumping snow, as much as 3 inches an hour, shutting down the airport and causing a state of emergency. that scene was repeated across many cities and areas of the midwest. armed with snowplows and shovels, the midwest today tried its best to fight back against a wicked winter storm that brought strong winds. near whiteout conditions. even thundersnow. as the deadly system that brought record snow to arizona, oklahoma and texas swept into the great plains today, schools and businesses were closed, and transportation in several states
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nearly ground to a halt. in kansas, authorities closed dozens of roads and highways, including a 90-mile stretch of interstate 70. parts of the state were buried under more than 14 inches of snow today. it fell so fast in wichita, the city was forced to hire 20 additional snowplows. blizzard conditions were a challenge, even for them. the roads were so bad in illinois, this minivan lost control, taking out a traffic light. a state of emergency was declared for all of missouri, with the governor urging residents to stay off the roads. kansas city international airport was closed for much of the day, and hundreds of flights across the region were cancelled. >> i first walked in, i saw the line here, and i said, "this cannot be good." >> farther south, snow, rain, sleet, and dangerous icy conditions. in st. louis, salt trucks blanketed the city in preparation and officials activated the emergency operation center. >> they will be out all day
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long, plowing the roads and preparing for the main part of the storm that we're expecting to hit rush hour this evening. >> feels like we're in a snow globe. >> the snow is welcome news in this drought-stricken region, where many farmers have been hit hard. >> the guys i know are probably doing cartwheels, having this kind of moisture. >> but with some areas so dry, they would need 10 feet of snow to make up the deficit. even this snowfall will offer little relief. and tonight, 20 states all parts of 20 states under some type of winter weather advisory or warning. back here in kc, they hope to get flights resumed at the airport sometime after 7:00 a.m. after they dig the airport out tonight. meanwhile, o'hare has already preemptively cancelled over 200 inbound and outbound flights tomorrow, friday. so check with your air carrier, brian, and maybe pack a lunch. >> thanks, mike seidel, kansas city, starting us off. let's go over to lincoln, nebraska. weather channel meteorologist
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jim cantore is out in it there. jim, good evening. >> hey, brian. 4 inches here at the capital. we could tack on another 4. the problem is, the storm is far from over here. let's talk about it and where it goes and what it becomes as we head into the weekend here. tomorrow morning we're talking about snow coming into the chicago metro area. indianapolis, as well. so we expect a rush hour there that will at least start with snow. it may not end that way. as you can see, the forecast, friday at 9:00 a.m., does not show anymore snow there. and then the storm changes itself as we head into the weekend. a new low pressure from this develops off the virginia coast, travels up the east coast. it's got a lot of warm air from the gulf of mexico to feed off. the problem is, it will not have enough cold air to keep it all snow in new york, in boston. but eventually as that low pulls to the east, it will be all snow in boston once again, for the third weekend straight. winter, brian, is far from over. >> all right, jim cantore, lincoln, nebraska tonight. jim, thanks. now we go overseas to a big revelation in the murder case of oscar pistorius in south africa. this stunned everybody in the
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courtroom and left the prosecution scrambling. it turns out the lead investigator in the case is facing attempted murder charges of his own. we get our report tonight from nbc's michelle kosinski in pretoria. >> reporter: oscar pistorius in court for the third day of a bail hearing that has turned into a sort of mini trial. and a battle between each side's attorney. today's bombshell, the chief police investigator, hilton botha, is facing attempted murder charges from a shooting he was involved in while on duty two years ago. even top prosecutors were stunned. >> what i can say is that the timing is totally weird. >> reporter: all this follows botha's shaky performance in court yesterday, riddled with mistakes, confused about facts. now he's off the case. >> certainly, the state will be left with the embarrassing impression that they don't -- they aren't fully in control of their own case and they haven't done certain crucial
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investigative steps to ensure they can actually prosecute this man. >> reporter: but then it was the prosecution's turn to reveal what they call inconsistencies in pistorius' story. he says he woke up in the dark, heard a noise, thought girlfriend reeva steenkamp was in bed, grabbed his gun, yelled, then fired. but the prosecution countered. he would have had to walk right by steenkamp about three times, asking if he really thought this was an intruder, you don't even look to see that the other person is next to you? you want to protect her, but you don't even look at her. and pistorius claims he fired. police say from here against the bathroom sinks into the small toilet room. then he says dropped his gun. prosecutors said today the gun was found here, on a small carpet outside the shower, next to cell phones belonging to both pistorius and steenkamp. calling pistorius' account totally improbable, claiming he's prone to anger and clearly wanted to kill with those four shots. even if you believe his story, they say, it's still premeditated murder of a
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burglar. the defense insists, there's no evidence of a murder at all. the question one judge have will decide in a trial still many months away. michelle kosinski, nbc news, pretoria, south africa. this was a very violent day in syria. more than 50 people are dead tonight, 235 injured after a huge bomb detonated in the heart of the capital city of damascus. police say a car bomb went off this morning near the ba'ath party headquarters and the russian embassy. it injured pedestrians, kids going to school, people in passing vehicles. damascus has until recently been spared the worst of syria's two-year civil war which has now claimed an estimated 70,000 lives. another big story overseas tonight. one the white house is watching closely. international nuclear inspectors said today, iran has made significant upgrades, as they called it, in its ability to enrich uranium, bringing that nation even closer to being able to make a nuclear weapon.
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our chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell, following all of this tonight in our washington newsroom. andrea, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. less than a week before iran and the u.s., along with other allies, are set to finally resume nuclear talks, those weapon inspectors reported today that iran has made good on its threat to start installing advanced centrifuges in its nuclear plant at netans, increases iran's ability to produce enriched uranium which can quickly be converted to weapons grade. the u.s. called this a provocative step. israel quickly condemned it. there is a plus side to this. the good news, the centrifuges are being installed above ground. the report says there is no sign that iran has started operating centrifuges underground in a once secret plant that would be much harder to attack. the inspectors also said iran seems to be capping its stockpile of nuclear fuel to avoid crossing israel's red line of having enough for a bomb. that could create more time for
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diplomacy, delaying the threat of military action, brian. >> andrea mitchell in our d.c. newsroom. thanks. back in this country, the latest episode of gun violence unfolded in the predawn hours along the las vegas strip when a fight at one of the hotels turned into a violent car chase that ended right in front of four of the biggest hotel casinos. a range rover and maserati raced down las vegas boulevard, someone opened fire from the suv into the maserati, according to witnesses. it then slammed into a taxi and several other cars and a fiery explosion in the end that killed the cab driver, the passenger and the driver of the maserati. a passenger in the sports car was shot and injured, but survived. police are looking for the suv and its occupants tonight. gun crimes, of course, have taken on a much higher profile in this country, since the shootings at the school in newtown, connecticut, which reignited the heated debate over
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gun control. tonight we unveil an nbc news exclusive, showing law enforcement officials say serious gaps in this country's gun laws make it hard for them to do their jobs. we get our report from our national investigative correspondent, michael isikoff. >> reporter: fbi agents seized a video of this neo-nazi convention. >> this is a war! >> reporter: while investigating the owner of an ohio sporting goods store. the search turned up an arsenal and what authorities say was a possible racist plot. >> the fbi averted a catastrophe in this case. there's no doubt about it. >> reporter: the store owner, richard schmidt, a convicted felon, is charged with illegally stockpiling 18 firearms, including assault weapons, shotguns and pistols, body armor, high-capacity magazines and more than 40,000 rounds of ammunition. >> and they were all over the place. he had one in his coat pocket. >> reporter: schmidt had served 13 years for homicide in an ohio state prison.
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under federal law, he was barred from owning any firearms. he has pled not guilty to the new weapons charges and his lawyer declined to comment. nbc news has learned the fbi was also concerned that schmidt may have been drawing up a hit list, after finding notebooks showing the names and addresses of jewish and african-american leaders in detroit. agents briefed wendell anthony about the potential threat. >> appears to me like this guy is a one-man army. very unsettling, very disturbing. and it really kind of made me angry. >> reporter: the fbi also warned scott kauffman, a jewish community leader. >> names of tenants in our building, names of some of the people in leadership positions in our organization, including mine. >> reporter: prosecutors are determined to find out where and how schmidt got his guns. but that's proving a difficult task, because of what they say are giant loopholes in the nation's gun laws. one big issue, congress has prohibited a national computerized database of gun sales.
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so agents at the atf tracing center in west virginia are forced to use technology out of 1940s, poring through cardboard boxes, water logged sales records, and even microfiche. agents believe schmidt acquired his firearms at gun shows or private sellers, where under federal law, background checks are not required. >> there's no documentation required for private transactions. so whatever occurs in that zone, is invisible to us. >> reporter: an estimated 80% of those convicted of gun crimes get their weapons through private sales. more evidence of what some prosecutors say are alarming gaps in the nation's gun laws. michael isikoff, nbc news, bowling green, ohio. still ahead for us here on a thursday night, you may not want to hear it, but there's something we all need to know about this year's particular strain of flu vaccine. then later, a slew of big movies at the oscars this year are fact-based. but there's actually a healthy amount of fiction mixed in, and
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not everyone is on board with it.
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it has so far been an awful flu season, and it's not over. and this year, as we seem to do every year, we've been passing on to you the advice of the experts. whatever you do, make sure you get that flu shot. well, the new numbers out tonight from the cdc show the flu vaccine has actually been a dismal failure among those who need its protection the most. as many as 49,000 americans die from the flu every year, and while we don't have the total numbers for this flu season yet, they will be high. and the number of people 65 and over, hospitalized for the flu, has been the highest since they started tabulating in 2005. our report tonight from our chief science correspondent, robert bazell. >> reporter: it has been the constant message from the cdc throughout this bad flu season. >> protect yourself. protect your family. everyone needs a flu vaccine.
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>> reporter: but cdc's own study out today shows that surprisingly often, the vaccine just doesn't work. even though it matched this year's flu strain. overall, the vaccine proved effective, just over half. 56% of the time. but against the dangerous a-strain in people 65 and over, the vaccine offered only 9% protection. in the very age group most likely to be hospitalized, and even die. >> we simply need a better vaccine against influenza. one that works better and lasts longer. >> reporter: infectious disease expert michael osterholm got flu this year, even though he was vaccinated. >> over the past decade, the public health community has said the flu vaccine would be answer. now as we have improved in the science of our studies of influenza vaccine, we know that's not the case. >> reporter: osterholm and many public health officials agree more research is needed to find a better vaccine. meanwhile, they urge people to continue to get vaccinated. >> although it's far from perfect, flu vaccination is by far the best tool we have to
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protect from flu. >> reporter: because of the vaccines' limits, the cdc today made important recommendations for treating people 65 and older. it says they should get treatment with tamiflu or other antiviral medicines if they have suspected influenza, regardless of their vaccination status. critical advice for the population who are usually the most vulnerable to complications from the flu, and after a particularly severe flu season, an admission that for them the vaccine often does little good. robert bazell, nbc news, new york. a new investigation by a conservation group shows all across this country the fish you order in a restaurant or buy at the store may not be what it says on the label. the group oceana says their dna testing showed a third of the fish they examined was something other than what it was supposed to be. sometimes it's cheaper fish being sold as something fancier,
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like red snapper. but some mislabeled substitutes could be dangerous, with high levels of mercury or toxins that can make you sick. so it's buyer beware. these days, 90% of the fish we eat in this country is imported. and just 2% of all of that is inspected, according to this report. we're back in a moment with the strange invasion happening in one of the most beautiful places in america.
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two items about anger in the news. researchers at city university here in new york have studied rude and offensive behavior, because, let's face it, new york city can be a rich environment for the study of such things. they have found the silent treatment is better for your health when you're confronted by someone who is being rude or offensive or both. they say ostracism is best. engaging the rude can be depleting on our health.
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there is an outburst report in the u.k. kathleen a man punched his boss and brandished two knives, shouting at colleagues, threatening to slice them up. here's the bad part. he was employed at a stress ball factory. he was arrested and admitted to the charge of assault. a strange story in the world of nature at a beautiful place. as our sacramento nbc affiliate kcra has reported, massive mutant goldfish are being found in lake tahoe. scientists believe they may have gotten there by what they call aquarium-dumping. people releasing their own fish into the water that have no business there. there are worries that widespread breeding among these fish will raise algae levels, and further threaten the pristine water of lake tahoe. up next for us here tonight, the dramatic raid and the nail-biting chase at the airport. high drama at the movies this oscar season.
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but was it the way it actually happened in real life?
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the academy awards this weekend, with three of the best picture nominees based on fact, not fiction, but true stories.
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a lot of people are talking now about just how true to the actual facts these movies should really be. does dramatic license give filmmakers a license to write some historic events their way? our report tonight from los angeles and nbc's mike taibbi. >> reporter: in "argo," the story of six americans saved by a daring rescue during the iran hostage crisis, there's a tense airport chase scene at the end that never happened. >> in order to make an exciting and entertaining film, you have to stretch the truth. >> reporter: artistic license, says one critic. >> you have to dramatize things a little bit. that's just the way movie-making is. >> reporter: but "zero dark thirty" about the killing of osama bin laden began with a torture scene even the filmmakers say they never confirmed produced useful clues. >> now, now, now! >> reporter: and in steven spielberg's "lincoln," they got a key fact wrong. connecticut's two congressmen did not vote against the 13th
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amendment ending slavery. current connecticut congressman joe courtney wrote spielberg and said that placing connecticut on the wrong side of the historic and divisive fight over slavery is easily against verifiable facts. agreed says movie host ben mankiewicz. >> i think if the movie is about the passage of the 13th amendment or whether we're going to torture people in the united states of america, you bet their feet should get held to the fire. >> reporter: but oscar has celebrated dozens of films over the years that were based on true stories, but that imagined characters and dialogue and whole scenes. from "patton" to "a beautiful mind" to "the king's speech," film makers have relied on artistic license to create historical dramas, not documentaries. if some confuse the two, that does worry historians. >> as i teacher, i find that what students think know know about history often comes from movies. you have to disabuse them about some of the misconceptions and
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give them broader context of history than hollywood movies are capable of giving them. >> reporter: in the oscar spotlight this year, three movies about significant, historical events, along with a story-teller's age-old question. why let the facts get in the way of a good story. mike taibbi, nbc news, los angeles. >> we do love a good movie. that's our broadcast on a thursday night. thanks for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we'll look for you right back here tomorrow night. good night. right now at 6 oob:00, a big mess and near miss. a live look from our nbc chopper. a crane collapses underneath the bay bridge project. good eveningen and thanks for joining us. i'm. >> i'm jessica aguirre. >> a massive crane accident in
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san francisco. the crane toppled over as crews worked on the new eastern span of the bridge. caltrans says it wants answers what went wrong. we have team coverage tonight. stephen stocking is digging into the company's history. we begin with jody hernandez live on treasure island with the latest on the investigation? >> jessica, we're still learning new details about what took place underneath the new eastern span of the bay bridge. you can see a portion of the 160-foot red crane is still out here on the bay tonight. it is secured to a barge. now, that crane came down this afternoon along with a massive piece of scaffolding. for those who witnessed it, it was jolting. >> not much happens on a daily basis. it's like watching grass grow. things happen slowly except for today. >> reporter: that's an understatement. mr.a manager roger lad wig was startled when he heard a loud
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grinding noise from underneath the bridge. when he looked up, he saw a red crane toppled over and a huge piece of scaffolding falling down. >> next thing i know, one of the cranes was already down and the scaffolding was perched up there. it was kind of suspended and collapsed onto the barge itself. >> reporter: a spokesperson for the bay bridge project says twos cranes were working in tandem to lower a piece of scaffolding when that scaffolding slipped, knocking one crane off sits center of gravity and sending the 129-ton piece of steel falling down. fortunately, it landed on a barge and no one was injured. >> we have no expectation that this will delay anything with the bridge. the contractor has an excellent safety record. and we're going to be looking into why the crane tipped over. >> reporter: tonight, that massive piece of scaffolding is being tugged away while nobody was hurt, the zmoent have been deadly. .ladwig is surprised it wasn't. >> i thought somebody's hurt.
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